Jan. 27, 2010
Restaurants and foodservice establishments serving up convenience are poised to do well in this post-recession economy, according to a release by research company Mintel. Its new report suggests that although value has become the mantra of many contemporary diners, convenience --including delivery options -- still resonates with the out-to-eat crowd, especially for those under age 34. These observations have implications for convenience-boosting technology in the restaurant space.
Over half of younger adults rank a restaurant's proximity to their workplace as very important/important when selecting where to dine (62 percent of 25 – 34 year olds and 55 percent of 18 – 24 year olds, versus 41 percent of all respondents). The ability to order online ahead of time is also essential to young, time-strapped consumers (31 percent of 25 – 34 year olds and 24 percent of 18-24 year olds, versus 19 percent overall). The younger demographics also rank extended hours (i.e. late-night) and speed of service highly in their restaurant selection processes.
"Though value remains important to diners in this economy, our survey reveals convenience may be equally as important," said Chris Haack, senior analyst at Mintel. "Young adults and young families, especially, are pressed for time, making restaurants an easy and often necessary solution for meals. As foodservice establishments struggle for revenue, improving convenience may help them get diners in the door."
The report also' points out these consumers' attitudes toward delivery and takeout, including:
- Forty-three percent of respondents say they've cut spending on delivery and takeout this year
- Approximately one in six 18 – 34 year olds say they're spending more on these convenient services compared to 2008
- In the past three months, 18 – 34 year olds were twice as likely as the general population to have ordered delivery
- Approximately 30 percent of them picked up food from a restaurant, compared to 20 percent of all respondents
Haack said the young adult group's focus on delivery could have implications for the success of geolocation and other similar tracking technologies.
"I think the idea of geolocation would be extremely popular among younger consumers," he said. "In the public sector, we are already witnessing this with the Chicago Transit Authority's Bus Tracker, which allows transit riders to track the location of buses and avoid long waits. Keep in mind that most CTA riders are between 18-34 and the launch of bus tracker has been extremely popular.
"I think geolocation for delivery services would allow young people to multitask with waiting for food. One could go throw in a load of laundry or take a shower without having to stress about missing the delivery."
Other observations include how restaurants make mealtime easier, especially for 25 to 34 year olds, many of who work full-time or have young children. Nearly half (49 percent) say they dine at casual restaurants because they're too tired to cook, while 40 percent do so because they have no time to prepare a meal. (This compares to 40 percent and 30 percent of all respondents, respectively.)
But special occasions, food quality and socialization remain top reasons that younger adults go to restaurants. "Restaurant usage is truly integrated into the lifestyles of adults under age 34. Many people value the fact that they can get quality food with minimal effort at a restaurant. As a bonus, they can spend that meal time with friends or family," said Haack.
Foodservice research group NPD also highlighted the importance of convenience in a report released earlier this week, which determined that 72 million adult consumers — nearly one in three adults — are "Convenience Consumers," with varied needs depending on their life stage and other characteristics.